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After Touring the Underworld, Taizong Returns to Life,
By Presenting a Pumpkin Liu Quan Continues His Marriage

Emperor Taizong`s soul is taken to the underworld and meets the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Taizong finds out that the ghost dragon of the River Jing has brought a case against him, saying that he was executed despite his promise to save him. The Ten Kings decide that it was not the Emperor`s fault that the dragon was beheaded. They look in the Register of Life and Death and see that the Emperor still has twenty years to live, so they sent him back to the world of light. Taizong bows to express his thanks to the Ten Kings. “When we return to the daylight we shall have nothing with which to show our gratitude except for fruit and melons,” he says. “We have gourds, Eastern melons and Western melons, or water-melons, here, but no pumpkins, no Southern melons,” say the Ten Kings. “When we return to the world of the living we shall send some,” replies Taizong, and with that they raise their clasped hands to each other, bow, and part. On his way back to the World of Light, Taizong meets the ghosts of the kings and chieftains of the sixty-four groups of rebels and the seventy-two troops of bandits who were all killed unjustly and cannot be reborn. Taizong promises to hold a Great Mass when he is back in the world of light to enable all of them to be reborn. After Taizong has returned tp the world of the living, he issues a notice calling for a worthy man to take pumpkins to the underworld. Some days after the notice has been issued a worthy man called Liu Quan from Junzhou comes forward to deliver the pumpkins. He came from a family worth ten thousand strings of cash. When his wife Li Cuilian had taken a gold pin from her hair to give as an offering to a monk at the gate, Liu Quan had cursed her for being a loose wife who would not stay in the women’s quarters. Li Cuilian, bitterly resenting this, had hanged herself, leaving a little boy and girl who had been crying night and day ever since. Liu Quan, unable to bear it any longer, wanted only to end his own life and abandon his family and his children. For this reason he has volunteered to deliver the pumpkins in death and comes to the Tang Emperor with the imperial notice in his hand.

The Emperor orders him to go to the Golden Pavilion, where he is to put a pair of pumpkins on his head and some gold in his sleeve and drink poison. Liu Quan drinks the poison and dies. In an instant his soul appears at the Devil Gate with the pumpkins on his head. The demon officer at the gate asks, “Who are you, and how did you come here?” “I have come on the orders of Emperor Taizong of the Great Tang to present some pumpkins to the Ten Kings of Hell.”

The officer is only too pleased to let him in, and he goes straight to the Senluo Palace, and when he is given audience with the Kings of Hell he presents the pumpkins to them and says, “I have brought these pumpkins a great distance in obedience to the decree of the Tang Emperor, who wishes to thank Your Majesties for their great mercy to him.” “How splendid of the Tang Emperor to be as good as his word,” exclaim the ten delighted kings as they accept the pumpkins. Then they ask him what he was called and where he was from.


On hearing his story, the Ten Kings order a search for Liu Quan’s wife, Miss Li. The devil messengers soon bring her to the Senluo Palace, outside which Liu Quan is reunited with her. They thank the Ten Kings for their kindness. On consulting the Registers of Birth and Death, the kings find that they are fated to become Immortals, so they order demon officers to take them back at once. The demon officers, however, ask in a report, “As Li Cuilian has been dead for some time her body has perished, so what is her soul to be attached to?” “Li Yuying, the sister of the Tang Emperor, is due to die a sudden death today,” says the Kings of Hell, “so we can borrow her body to put Li Cuilian’s soul back into.”

On receiving this order the demon officers take Liu Quan and his wife out of the underworld to be brought back to life. When the devil officers leave the underworld with Liu Quan and his wife, a dark and whirling wind blows them straight to the great capital Chang’an, where Liu Quan’s soul is sent to the Golden Pavilion and Li Cuilian’s to an inner courtyard of the palace, where Princess Yuying can be seen walking slowing beside some moss under the shade of some blossoming trees. Suddenly the devil officers strike her full in the chest and knock her over; they snatch the soul from her living body and put Li Cuilian’s soul into the body in its place. With that they return to the underworld.

Check back next week for Journey to the West Abridged: Chapter 12!

Journey to the West is one of the most famous novels in Chinese history. It was produced in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty. It has influenced countless other stories, works of art even in to the modern day, such as the anime Dragonball and the film The Forbidden Kingdom drawing inspiration from this classic.

The story follows the Tang Monk on his journey to India to obtain sacred Buddhist scriptures. Along the way he is joined by the magical Monkey King, a foolish Pig man, and the mighty Sand Monk. This article is part of a series by Walther Sell, summarizing the Chinese epic.

All content in the article are not our original work and are the property of Walther Sell. Check him out at:
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